Tuesday, October 04, 2005

This German Election Just Gets Weirder

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said on Monday that he would be prepared to step aside in the interest of forming a stable coalition with the conservatives. But his party said it still wanted a third term for him.

Schröder said before a meeting of his Social Democrats that he would accept any decision his party made on whether he should continue to fight conservative rival Angela Merkel to claim a third term as German leader.

"This is not about my prerogatives and absolutely not about me as a person," Schröder told RTL television when asked about his and Merkel's competing claims to the chancellery.

"It is about my party's prerogative for political leadership. I will accept any decision," he said. "I do not want to stand in the way of a development that allows the continuation of the (economic) reforms I initiated and the formation of a stable government in Germany."

The Social Democrats were meeting after the final district in Germany voted against them Sunday in a delayed ballot for the inconclusive general election, widening the conservatives' lead in parliament to four seats.

The vote was expected to have a psychological impact on the parties amid exploratory talks on forming a left-right "grand coalition," last seen in Germany in the late 1960s, and primarily on the question of who should be chancellor.

See previous stories here, here, and here

Essentially, Schroeder, who had a legitimate claim to the chancellor's spot (albeit you had to warp and twist the results a bit to get there) has suddenly decided that a grand coalition with the conservatives is not going to work, after a sort of local run off saw him lose four seats in parliament.

It's going to get interesting, because neither Schroeder nor Merkel has enough seats under control to outright declare themselves chancellor, and their coalition partners have made it so that Schroeder has more seats under his influence, but not what some might call a mandate. They're supposed to meet Wednesday to cobble a coalition, but it's very possible and actually likely they may end up with Merkel running one government and Schroeder running a sort of "shadow government" in absentia.

Stay tuned. This one will affect the US at some point.